Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Life Is An Adventure

I’m in Atlanta for a few days helping my mom with some of her business shopping.  It’s a ton of work and also a ton of fun, and free wireless access is relatively nonexistent. (and I really don't like having to pay for it.  Because in my mind it's air, and I don't think you should pay for air unless you are 30 feet below the surface of the ocean in a beautiful reef somewhere.)   But anyway, getting from the airport to the hotel was an interesting experience I wanted to write down before I forget about it.

There’s pretty easy-to-navigate train system here, and I figured that for just a $2.50 train ticket,  I could save myself the price of a shuttle ($20) or a taxi ($40), and since I’m all for saving money (ok I'll say it.  I’m cheap.  Happy?),  I hopped on the train.

 At about 8pm on a Sunday night there aren’t a lot of people using the public transportation system. By the time we got to the city center where I had to change trains, almost everyone who had ridden with me from the airport had found their stop along the way.

I was waiting on the platform for the second train in an underground station with unusually-mind-numbingly-cold-for-Atlanta weather, when this big black guy with a torn and dirty jacket and an unlit cigarette hanging from his lips came and stood directly behind me.  Directly. Behind. Me.   Like about 4 feet away on this empty platform which was longer than a football field.

I probably should have been scared, but I had just spent the day traveling, had a migraine coming on, and I was in NO MOOD for CRAP.   I turned and looked him in the eye and said “Hey, how ya doin’?”, and just then someone else came walking through, and he moved down the platform a ways.   After about 5 minutes waiting, it sort of dawned on me that out of about 50 people waiting for the train, I was the only white person around, and should I be scared?  But just then, the train roared in, and that was that.

Until I got off the train and noticed The Guy getting off, too.  Which, ok now I admit, sorta freaked me out just a little. But the best defense is a good offense, right?  So I headed out like I knew where I was going.  And then when I got on the escalator to get up to the street, he went somewhere else, so I felt better and started hunting for my destination.

I kind of knew where I was going.  (Yay googlemaps!)   The signs to my hotel pointed me through a big plaza, with tall flights of stairs on both ends (who designed this place??) . And just as I was trying to collapse my suitcase handle…in the dark…at the bottom of the stairs… in this big empty plaza…. The Guy came up behind me and picked up my suitcase and started carrying it up the long flight of stairs.    He wasn’t running, just carrying, so I told him how nice he was and asked him how he was doing with the cold.  And he said he was just getting by but it was tough.  He set the suitcase down at the top of the stairs, accepted the dollar I gave him, and then continued to walk with me another block or so, and opened the door for me to get in to the basement of my building.

Looking back on it, I’m not sure how I feel about it.  The little common sense I have says that was a bad situation.  But was it?  I didn’t think to ask The Guy, but I got the feeling that he was actually protecting me.  And so today I’m grateful for guardian angels (probably more than just the one I could see) in the dark downtown of Atlanta.

And next time, I’ll probably just take the shuttle.

28 comments:

Kristina P. said...

Interesting perspective! I probably would have pepper sprayed him.

Kevin said...

I think it was The Guy who had the guardian angel. I've seen your 'NO MOOD for CRAP' attitude. ;)

jjstringham said...

It had seemed like forever since you last posted, so I almost posted a comment of "Yay! You're alive!" without even reading your post first. After reading it, that comment seems even more appropriate.

Nikia, May and da kids said...

It's always interesting to get that kind of perspective in an odd situation: was he protecting and why you were fearful?

My husband is Black and I will say for years he got the "clutching of the person" from women every time he wore a beenie and thick jacket in the winter. I must say he still gets it now. So we get our giggles, every time we drive through a predominantly White neighborhood (like the one I live in now), when people are walking on the streets with their kids and dogs, we lock the doors when they pass by. It works best downtown during business hours when the streets are full of suits. Same reaction every time: they laugh.

You were smart and stayed calm. Ultimately, that would have saved you anyways.

May

Emmy said...

Glad you are okay. And you just never know who is there to help you along your way.

rocslinger said...

Beauty, humor and brains too.

You worked the situation perfectly, the last thing you want to do is show fear and almost anyone will react positively to kindness and respect.

goddessdivine said...

I would have panicked. Glad this happened to a more sensible person. (Ok, not glad you had a freaky experience, but, you know....)

And shopping for business stuff? How fun!

Yvonne said...

I hope you're having a great time. I'm sure your mom loves having you there with her.

Not sure how I'd feel about the whole situation, but he was probably just taken back by your talking to him and probably just wanted to help you out.

That Girl said...

Sigh. He was probably the nicest guy in the world, trying to help out a freaked out white lady.

I hate race issues. I could go on, but I won't.

Celeste said...

Having lived in Atlanta for 3 years it made me laugh to read your comment about being the only white gal. That's exactly what my grandparents from the West always said when they came out to visit us too. You handled that situation so well! I would have been freaked out with all of the scary Americans Most Wanted Cases running through my mind. Glad you stayed calm.

Amy Peterson said...

Boo!! So sad I missed you in Atlanta! Are you ready to bang your head on a hard brick wall? I don't think I have done anything productive since I got home-- TO TIRED!!!

Amy said...

Interesting perspective. You never know what form your Guardian Angel will take.

Melissa Bastow said...

Guardian angels are always the ones with unlit cigarettes hanging from their lips.

Help I need a user name! said...

Hmmm...you never know where God is going to show up, do you? Or what He'll look like...

just a thought.

Barbaloot said...

Glad you were okay! I'm too directionally challenged to try the train in the first place:)

mindyluwho said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
mindyluwho said...

Seeing as how you are alive and blogging about it all, I'm going with The Guy being a Guardian Angel.

mormonhermitmom said...

Woohoo! Way to take control of yourself!

The mad woman behind the blog said...

Angels can take the most interesting of shapes, can't they? I don't know how many angels I must have had all the nights I walked thru the tenderloin in SF at 3am.
Glad to see you back in the blogosphere.

Heather said...

Crazy! I'm glad you were kind, it makes me happy.

Stephanette said...

I've missed you!

I'm glad that he and you both figured out you were nice people!

Wow...that's two exclamation points in two sentences...hmmmm, I think I need more sleep.

Jennifer said...

I am impressed that you just kept your cool and paid close attention to what was going on around you. Black/White/AsianI think I would have been equally cautious of any woman or guy following you. (Strange city, dark, following you, taking your bag.)
You were very brave, and quick thinking. Way to be safe. I think the best way to protect yourself is to be aware.

Steph @ Diapers and Divinity said...

I will now hijack your post with a long comment-story:

I'm from Atlanta. My husband traveled there a few years ago by himself and took the Marta to his hotel. He got off and (in a freakishly similar fashion) there was a man who talked to him and ended up carrying his suitcase. He was wearing a Marta uniform. He walked my husband through the streets and helped him find his hotel. "What great service from Marta," he thought. He asked the guy how long he worked there. "Oh this? It's not mine. I just found it. I'm homeless." I laughed so hard when he told me this story. Small town boy thought the Marta assistant would walk his bags to the hotel. I still tease him. :)

Dave said...

you shoulda have asked him what time he goes running so you coulda had a partner :-)

Hope4Hannah said...

I Love you! and am glad you're ok!!! Great story. What a nice guy..... I would have been freaked out too though.

beckers said...

Wow. I woulda bee freaked out! So glad you are safe. :)

Loralee and the gang... said...

Who knew you'd have a big dark dude watching over you in ATLanta, instead of mugging you? Goes to show there really ARE more good people out there than bad. The bad ones just get all of the publicity!

Anonymous said...

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